Continuing to Perform at the Philharmonic

In 1995 Kimpton completely refurbished the HVAC systems throughout the Philharmonic in the performance, back stage and public spaces. The building had fallen into disrepair and Liverpool City Council with the support of the National Lottery, formed a project team to save the Philharmonic.

The photo below shows the team on site in 1995 with left to right Ron Tierney, Harry Winders and Dave Gore.

The Kimpton team at the Philharmonic from left to right Ron Tierney Harry Winders and Dave Gore


The History of the Philharmonic

The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall was built in 1849, as a music hall. Liverpool, as one of the busiest ports in the world, had a growing demand for live entertainment.

The construction of the hall took around 10 months, having been designed by the Scottish architect John Cunningham, who also designed Lime Street Station. The hall was one of the first purpose-built music halls in the UK.

The original cost of construction is not known, but it is estimated to have been around £30,000. – a substantial sum at the time, that reflected the wealth and prosperity of the growing city.

The hall was initially used for popular entertainment, including music hall performances and variety shows. However, after a major fire in 1933, it was taken over by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been founded in 1840. The Orchestra made extensive modifications to the hall to make it suitable for the demands of musical performances.

During the 60’s and 70’s, the hall welcomed some of the most significant musical acts in the world, from a wide range of genres. These included:

  • The Beatles: The band famously performed at the hall in 1962, just before they achieved international fame. They returned to the hall in 1963 and 1964 for a series of concerts.
  • Bob Dylan: The legendary singer-songwriter played at the Philharmonic Hall in 1966, as part of his world tour.
  • David Bowie: Bowie performed at the hall in 1972, as part of his Ziggy Stardust tour.
  • Elton John: The singer-songwriter played at the hall in 1972, during his first tour of the UK.
  • In addition, other acts to have played at the Philharmonic include Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Queen, and Oasis.

Kimpton working at the Philharmonic in 1995

Time for a major refurbishment

By the early 1990s, the Philharmonic Hall was in need of major renovation, as the building had fallen into disrepair. The Liverpool City Council, with support from the National Lottery, launched a major fundraising campaign to finance the renovations. The project, which began in 1993, included a complete refurbishment of the auditorium, stage, and backstage areas, as well as the addition of a new rehearsal room and education suite.

The hall now stages over 250 events each year, of which more than 60 are concerts of classical music. The main hall has a capacity of 1,700 with smaller events taking place in the Music, Green and 1840 rooms.

Kimpton at the Philharmonic

The renovation aimed to restore the hall’s original Victorian splendour, which had been lost over the years. This involved careful restoration of the hall’s decorative plasterwork and the installation of new HVAC, lighting and sound systems. The exterior of the building was also renovated, with the addition of new landscaping and a new entrance.

Some two years in the planning and execution, the Hall’s 1995 refurbishment included a major modernisation programme of the 1930’s structure and the addition of a new office wing. Kimpton were awarded the contract to carry out the design and installation of all heating and ventilation systems.

The system we created allowed for the heating and ventilation of all performance, rehearsal and office spaces, whilst at the same time, lowering ongoing operating costs and improving efficiency.

This was a challenging project that had to maintain the overall character of this world famous building, whilst accommodating the specific heating and ventilation requirements of a modern performance venue and without any noise transfer from equipment to performance areas.

Harry Winders of Kimpton working on the HVAC system deep inside the Philharmonic


Keeping the Philharmonic performing

In 2015, the Philharmonic Hall was designated a Grade II* listed building, recognising its historical and cultural significance. This has added additional challenges to maintaining the space.

However, since the renovation, completed in 1995, Kimpton have remained on site, maintaining all of the HVAC systems across the entire building, covering office, performance and rehearsal spaces.

A rolling planned preventative maintenance (PPM) programme sees Kimpton perform regular checks of all building services plant, with the option of emergency call-outs in case of unforeseen breakdowns.

A range of equipment needs to be maintained including gas fired boilers, large air handling equipment providing heating and cooling to the auditorium, backstage and other areas throughout the site, stand alone air conditioning systems, humidifiers and other associated equipment.

In addition, Kimpton have also recently upgraded air conditioning systems, within the performers’ ‘Green Room’, IT server room and Amplifier Room, where the system has been designed to prevent the 20 amplifiers that make up the main stage sound system from overheating.

Our relationship with the ‘Phil’ goes back nearly 30 years and it’s still one of the projects we’re most proud of. It’s a building that has a huge place in the history of Liverpool as a destination and we’re proud to be part of its continuing success.

We are Kimpton, we have history.

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